The Christmas story most people know comes from pageants, carols, or perhaps a television movie or two. But what we recall – and what many people seek to replicate each year – is an odd mixture of the two quite different stories contained in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, with certain pieces almost always present (even though they are not in the Bible at all) and with others sadly missing. The point of those versions of the story seems to be to nurture a warm, fuzzy feeling that leaves us cooing over a baby so we can then put the whole thing away as soon as possible after December 25 and get back to life as usual. But that’s not what the gospel writers had in mind.
To some extent, each of us fashions our own version of the “Christmas story.” Over time, as our associations and identification with that story grow, it can feel very uncomfortable and even disrespectful to disrupt or question that story. Any yet these reactions can be instructive, for they beg larger questions about what’s really important: the biblical narratives; or the traditions that have gathered around them, layered them, and at times obscured them; or the meaning all of this may have for your lives today?
Birth of Jesus for Progressive Christians is a five-session study guide that invites readers to explore the birth of Jesus with a new perspective. This will open up wonderful times of conversation within small groups, but also provides inspiration and guidance to how the birth story of Jesus is still relevant and important in the life of the church and its people today.
“Because of the importance of Christmas, how we understand the stories of Jesus’ birth matters. What we think they’re about – how we hear them, read them, interpret them – matters.”
– Marcus Borg/John Dominic Crossan